Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for July 13th, 2009

The wastefulness of the F-22

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Another way to look at it, by Spencer Ackerman:

Something I didn’t know but Brandon Friedman at VoteVets did: a staff sergeant leading an infantry squad in Afghanistan makes, with combat pay, about $44,500 per year. And it costs about $42,000 per hour to fly an F-22, a fighter jet never used in post-9/11 combat at a time when the two wars the United States is fighting require a lot of infantry squad leaders and not a single fighter jet. This is all apropos of the vote this week on the fiscal 2010 defense authorization bill, which President Obama has threatened to veto because of all the money for the F-22 back into it as Defense Secretary Bob Gates tries to end the jet’s production line. Obama’s big ally on the effort to put the F-22 out to pasture is none other than Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), whom you may remember from the 2008 campaign, when he attacked Obama’s judgment on national security questions.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 July 2009 at 12:36 pm

Uh-oh. Problems ahead in healthcare

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Steve Benen at Political Animal:

Barack Obama is right that our health care system is so wasteful and poorly organized that it is possible to lower costs, expand access, and raise quality all at the same time — and even have money left over at the end to help pay for other major programs. He’s also right that to achieve these reforms the health care industry must join the 21st century and computerize its medical records — and indeed there is $20 billion in the stimulus package to pay for it.

Unfortunately, that $20 billion is likely to be squandered on buggy, inadequate proprietary software sold by the very companies that lobbied for the money, unless the Obama administration takes decisive action to promote the adoption of better-quality "open source" health IT. So reports Phillip Longman in his tour de force cover story in the latest issue of the Washington Monthly.

Done right, digitized health care could help save the nation from insolvency while improving and extending millions of lives at the same time. Done wrong, it could reconfirm Americans’ deepest suspicions of government and set back the cause of health care reform for yet another generation.

Read Longman’s story, "Code Red," here.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 July 2009 at 11:23 am

Singing a song is the best revenge

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The story (from YouTube):

There is now a video response:…

Full Story:… – In the spring of 2008, Sons of Maxwell were traveling to Nebraska for a one-week tour and my Taylor guitar was witnessed being thrown by United Airlines baggage handlers in Chicago. I discovered later that the $3500 guitar was severely damaged. They didn’t deny the experience occurred but for nine months the various people I communicated with put the responsibility for dealing with the damage on everyone other than themselves and finally said they would do nothing to compensate me for my loss. So I promised the last person to finally say no to compensation (Ms. Irlweg) that I would write and produce three songs about my experience with United Airlines and make videos for each to be viewed online by anyone in the world. United: Song 1 is the first of those songs. United: Song 2 has been written and video production is underway. United: Song 3 is coming. I promise. Follow me at . Video Produced by Curve Productions of Halifax,

Written by LeisureGuy

13 July 2009 at 11:02 am

Large Hadron Rap

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Found via this fascinating article:

In the recent Tom Hanks/Ron Howard film "Angels & Demons," science sets the stage for destruction and chaos. A canister of antimatter has been stolen from CERN — the European Organization for Nuclear Research — and hidden in the Vatican, set to explode right as a new pope is about to be selected.

Striving to make these details as realistic as possible on screen, Howard and his film crew visited CERN, used one of its physicists as a science consultant, and devoted meticulous care to designing the antimatter canister that Hanks’ character, Robert Langdon, and his sexy scientist colleague, Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer), wind up searching for.

But there was nothing they could do about the gigantic impossibility at the center of the plot. While the high-energy proton collisions generated at CERN do occasionally produce minute quantities of antimatter — particles with the opposite electrical charge as protons and electrons, but the same mass, which can in turn be combined into atoms like antihydrogen — it’s not remotely enough to power a bomb. As CERN quips on a Web site devoted to "Angels & Demons," antimatter "would be very dangerous if we could make a few grams of it, but this would take us billions of years."

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

13 July 2009 at 10:42 am

Goldman Sachs’s blow-out profits

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Remember all of this — the $700 billion bank bailout, the AIG scandal, dark and scary threats of imminent global meltdown if there wasn’t full-scale capitulation by the citizenry to the immense transfer of public wealth to the private investment banking sector?  Such distant, hazy memories:  so many exciting celebrity deaths and riveting celebrity resignations ago.  If sequences of events like these don’t cause mass citizen outrage, then it’s hard to imagine what will:

The New York Times, September 19, 2008:

WASHINGTON — It was a room full of people who rarely hold their tongues. But as the Fed chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, laid out the potentially devastating ramifications of the financial crisis before congressional leaders on Thursday night, there was a stunned silence at first.

Mr. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. had made an urgent and unusual evening visit to Capitol Hill, and they were gathered around a conference table in the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“When you listened to him describe it you gulped," said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York.

As Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut and chairman of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, put it Friday morning on the ABC program “Good Morning America,” the congressional leaders were told “that we’re literally maybe days away from a complete meltdown of our financial system, with all the implications here at home and globally.”

Mr. Schumer added, “History was sort of hanging over it, like this was a moment.”

When Mr. Schumer described the meeting as “somber,” Mr. Dodd cut in. “Somber doesn’t begin to justify the words,” he said. “We have never heard language like this.”

“What you heard last evening,” he added, “is one of those rare moments, certainly rare in my experience here, is Democrats and Republicans deciding we need to work together quickly.”

ABC News, September 26, 2008:

The embattled Goldman Sachs investment banking firm and its employees have spent more than $43 million dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions to cultivate friends and buy influence in Washington, D.C. since 1989, according to an ABC News analysis of campaign finance records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

As a group, Goldman Sachs bankers have been the country’s top political campaign contributors this year and have given $29.5 million in contributions since 1989, according to the Center.

"They are almost in a class by themselves," said Sheila Krumholz, the executive director for the Center for Responsive Politics.

"Their top executives are in a class that is way above the clout and name-dropping that most other American businesses can achieve," says Krumholz.

The New York Times, September 27, 2008:

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Written by LeisureGuy

13 July 2009 at 10:35 am

Spicy, Citrusy Black Beans

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A tasty-sounding recipe from Simply Recipes (with good photos at the link):

Spicy, Citrusy Black Beans Recipe

  • 4 cups dried black beans
  • 2 1/2 quarts (10 cups) water
  • 2-3 fresh sprigs oregano, or 1 Tbsp dried
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 small or 3 large sage leaves
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 2 chopped peppers – bell pepper, Anaheim, or jalapeño (your choice, depending on taste for heat), seeds, stems and ribs discarded
  • 6 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 Tbsp Ancho red chili sauce, or chili powder or Tabasco to taste
  • 1-2 teaspoons of puréed chipotle in adobo, chipotle Tabasco, or chipotle powder (to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp cumin, (crushed whole toasted cumin seed is best, if possible)
  • 3 Tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate or 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

1 Prepare the beans. Rinse and sort the beans, discarding any stones or shriveled beans. You can soak the beans overnight in cold water (cover with several inches of water) OR pour enough boiling water over them to cover by a few inches and soak them for an hour OR skip the pre-soaking step. Soaking will speed up the cooking process. If you soak, discard the soaking liquid after soaking.

2 Add beans to a large pot with 2 1/2 quarts (10 cups) of water. Add oregano, bay leaves, and sage. Bring the beans to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the beans are soft, but not quite done. The time will vary depending on how large, dry, or old your beans are, and if you have pre-soaked them, from anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half.

3 While the beans are cooking, sauté onions and peppers in olive oil until soft. Add chili puree and cumin, and garlic. Sauté until spices are fragrant.

4 Fish out and discard the bay leaves, stems of oregano, and sage leaves from the pot of beans. Remove, but reserve, extra cooking liquid until there is about 1/2-inch of liquid above beans.

5 Add the onion mixture and salt to the pot of beans. Cook another hour or so until thickened. Add reserved liquid if needed.

6 Add half of the orange juice, and simmer. Adjust chili heat at this point – you may or may not want to add more of your chili paste. Just before serving, add remaining orange juice, lime juice, and vinegar. Salt to taste. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.

Serve with corn tortillas, and/or rice, sour cream, and salsa.

Serves 8.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 July 2009 at 10:29 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

"Body and Soul" – Portena Jazz Band, 1972

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Another discovery from Jack in Amsterdam:

Written by LeisureGuy

13 July 2009 at 10:26 am

Posted in Daily life, Jazz, Video

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